- HOLLYWOOD, Calif.
The first round of films selected for the fourth year of California’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0 includes another big-budget feature, a large contingent of independent projects, and lots of out-of-zone production.
The California Film Commission announced that 19 films (11 non-independents and 8 independents) have been approved conditionally for $52.2 million in tax credits. They will generate an estimated $258.2 million in qualified expenditures (defined as wages to below-the-line workers and payments for equipment/vendors) and spend a combined 602 shoot days across the state. Based on data provided with each tax credit application, they will employ 869 cast, 2,357 crew, and 23,000 extras (including stand-ins measured in man-days).
“It’s great to see so many tax credit projects bring production jobs and spending to regions across the state,” said California Film Commission Tax Credit program director Nancy Rae Stone. “The out-of-zone filming provisions in Program 2.0 are working as intended to help spread the direct economic benefit.”
Stone went on to explain that Program 2.0 includes a five percent tax credit uplift for film and TV projects that perform original photography outside the traditional Los Angeles 30-Mile Zone.
Projects announced include the DC Comics spinoff “Birds of Prey” starring Margot Robbie, which is the latest big-budget win for California. The WB Studio Enterprises Inc. production is on track to spend nearly $63 million in-state on qualified expenditures. Such projects with total budgets exceeding $75 million were ineligible for the state’s first-generation incentive program.
“We are excited to be awarded an incentive from the California Film & TV Tax Credit Program, which will allow us to produce ‘Birds of Prey’ in the Golden State,” said Warner Bros. Pictures SVP of physical production Kelley Smith-Wait. “The project will have a large footprint and create hundreds of new jobs for women and men in our industry.”
In addition to “Birds of Prey,” 10 other non-independent (i.e., studio) films were selected for the latest round of tax credits: “Bullett” (Bulletpath, LLC), “Bunker” (Bunker Film Productions), “Covers” (Universal City Studios), “Cry, Baby” (Cry Baby Productions), “Flying Horse” (Tooley Productions 4), “Fool’s Day” (New Line Productions), “Head” (Headcase Movie LLC), “Rent-Live” (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.), “This Has Been” (WB Studio Enterprises), and “The Hunt” (Universal City Studios). This non-indie roster includes six projects (“Bunker,” “Covers,” “Cry, Baby,” “The Has Been,” “Flying Horse,” and “The Hunt”) that plan to shoot outside the Los Angeles 30-Mile Studio Zone.
The eight indie films selected for the tax credit are: “Black and Blue” (Black and Blue Movie, LLC), “Blackbird” (Hunting Lane Films), “Drunk Bus” (Go Lemmings, LLC), “Lilian” (Cannonball Productions), “Mainstream” (Mainstream Movie LLC), “Revenge” (Solutions Media), Untitled Charles Randolph Project (Lucite Desk, LLC), and “YesterNow” (Signature Entertainment). Five of these projects (“Black and Blue,” “Blackbird,” “Drunk Bus,” “Revenge,” and “YesterNow”) plan to shoot outside the Zone.
California will double for New York and New Jersey in “Untitled Charles Randolph project” and for Europe in “Bunker.” At least two other projects--“Bullet” (originally set in Philadelphia) and “Head” (originally set in New Jersey)--will have their storylines revised to be set in California.
A total of 43 film projects applied for tax credits during the June 18-22 application period. Note that the list of selected projects is subject to change, as applicants may withdraw from the program and their reservation of tax credits is reassigned to one or more other projects currently on the waitlist. The next application period for feature film tax credits will be held October 15 - 19.
Projects approved for California tax credits are selected based on their jobs ratio score, which ranks each project by wages to below-the-line workers, qualified spending for vendors, equipment, etc., and other criteria. The top 200% ranked projects in each round (i.e., those that would qualify if double the amount of funding was available for the current allocation round) are evaluated, and those with the highest-ranked jobs ratios receive tax credits. Those not selected are placed on the waiting list. The program allocates funding in “buckets” for different production categories, including non-independent feature films, independent films, TV projects and relocating TV series. This enables applicants to compete for credits directly against comparable projects. As has been the case since the state launched its first-generation tax credit program in 2009, the California Film Commission awards tax credits only after each selected project: 1) completes post-production, 2) verifies that in-state jobs were created, and 3) provides all required documentation, including audited cost reports.